#AtoZChallenge: Ooookay…

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By Anton Bielousov (Own work: Grouse Mountain) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

You know that feeling when something is presented as cold, clear reality, but facts demonstrate otherwise. Or when someone says something so outrageous, you simply don’t have words for it. Except the one.

Ooookay…

It is a beat; it is a non-reaction reaction. And I’m starting to feel as though it is the underlying rhythm of this alternate universe in which we seem to find ourselves lately. Four election machines are stolen in Georgia on Sunday, just ahead of today’s special election for Tom Price’s seat, and the person from whom they were “stolen” didn’t report it until the eve of the election?

Ooookay…

Ivanka Trump receives provisional trademarks from China after the state-ish dinner with President of China, Xi Jinping, apparently leveraging her amorphous White House role and likely her enigmatic security clearance for personal financial gain?

Ooookay…

Trump, in an interview, refers to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un solely as “this gentleman” — as though he doesn’t know his name — and says both Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama handled him poorly. Only Kim Jong Il was ruler during the Clinton years. And most of Obama’s first term. He died in 2011. But nuclear weapons are still on the table.

Ooookay…

And the GOP seems pretty thumbs-up about all of it.

OOOOKAY…
I don’t know how we turn this ship around and venture back into the safety of reality, where so-called presidents don’t launch bombs to distract from their likely involvement with foreign powers to influence elections. I don’t know how we stop living in the time stub that disappears when the hero arrives in her time device to save humanity from its ultimate doom.

So until then, we are left with just one thing.

Ooookay.

Check out  my full-length novels: 

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

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#AtoZChallenge: New

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By AE Brehm [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Yesterday, I noticed spring. There was nothing, but now scarlet tulips sit tight and upright on their emerald stems; lacy hyacinths wave in the strong spring wind; daffodils all smile at the same point in the distance. The grass isn’t brown. There aren’t leaves, not yet, but branches are dotted with the promise of leaves.

Spring.

Some of the flowering trees have started, and the air itself has changed. It’s new.

There’s a reason spring cleaning is a thing. Nature seems to do it itself, pushing away the dead and dried to make way for the green. Rain scrubs the skies. It washes away the things left behind.

There is no tribute to new quite like spring. Winter has come and gone, and with it its cold and stillness. It isn’t still now.

It’s spring. And the world is new.

Check out  my full-length novels: 

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

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#AtoZChallenge: Memory

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I know, I know, giraffe doesn’t start with M. Can’t resist today, though. Like many of you, I suspect, I was watching a giraffe with her brand-new baby (I missed the birth, but so it goes) when suddenly I remembered: I’m supposed to write a blog post today. Right. Yes.

Which got me thinking about that elusive thing called “memory.”

(Ponder that for a second, I’ll be right back, just need to look at that baby giraffe again. And see if s/he is standing yet. Baby giraffes are precocious.)

Almost. Not quite. OK, back to memory. It loses things we need; it clutches things we really don’t, like that one time that thing happened, and it was so embarrassing and you’d like to forget it but it loves to pop back into the old thinker right when you’re trying to go to sleep.

My own memory has always been a bit of a murky mess in some ways; relentlessly detailed in others. I don’t always remember people I’ve known; I have a friend who reminds me of things I’ve long forgotten, marked and inventoried. We joke she’s my historian.

(Why yes, I did just pop over to see the new giraffe again. Admit it. You did too.)

It’s strange that something lasting can be so ephemeral; so real yet unreal at the same time. It forms our basis as we learn from our mistakes and successes. It haunts us. It bathes us in remembered warmth.

(Nearly made it that time! April is standing between us and the camera. A couple inches to the right, April. We’re making memories here.)

Check out  my full-length novels: 

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

 Sign up for my spamless newsletter!

#AtoZChallenge: Lax

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Gotta admit it. I’ve been lax in my blog visits the last two days, and I really couldn’t tell you why. It’s my favorite part of the challenge, reading what people come up with, discovering new blogs, sometimes seeing new places or admiring the skills of others.

I’d like to blame it on the new format this year but it’s not that. It’s just as easy to go through the links on the A to Z site, or find posts on twitter, or find others through comments on posts. The blogs are everywhere.

Could it just be that I’m having a streak of another L word?

Laziness?

I admit I am preoccupied with the goings-on of the world, with tensions high and an utterly unpredictable person in the White House, someone who’s proven his readiness to use violent, powerful weapons at a whim. And when I need to be writing, I am like this sometimes, staring at a block instead of working my way around it.

So if I’ve neglected you recently, I apologize, believe me, every unclicked click is cannonballing itself onto my pile of guilt. But there is an upside to  it all.

Lax is an l-word.

Check out  my full-length novels: 

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

 Sign up for my spamless newsletter!

#AtoZChallenge: Keeper or keeperless

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By Taken by fir0002 | flagstaffotos.com.au Canon 20D + Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L (Own work) [GFDL 1.2 (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Another letter, another inspiration lull (hmm, lull. Note L word for tomorrow), so I decided to go with a hint from the universe and get a random word.

Didn’t exactly work at first.

I got a list of words starting with K I wasn’t sure were words, including Kwakiutl, which, I learned, were a Canadian native American group found in British Colombia. Now we’ve both learned something.

Finally, after several clicks of “generate,” the word “keeperless” (my spellcheck disputes its wordiness) appeared. Keeperless. Curious.

But not fully inspiring. I turned to my trusty thesaurus, with its torn cover and yellowed, curled pages, found K, and closed my eyes.

Justice.

K started on the J page. Aiming a little lower, I pointed. And hit.

Keeper.

Curiouser. Keeper and keeperless. There is a poetry to it, a yin and yang, keeper and keeperless, A balance of words, perhaps only out of chance, perhaps out of something more and mysterious.

Keeper and keeperless.

 

 

Check out  my full-length novels: 

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

 Sign up for my spamless newsletter!

#AtoZChallenge: Jane Storegoer and the Cone of Evil

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skull icecream colorized yellow pinkNOTE: This series started as an A to Z Blogging Challenge post (V for Villain) last year, and morphed into an entire saga! Catch the rest of the posts here. They start from the bottom.

Couldn’t resist bringing Jane to you for J!

You can’t have a story without conflict. I mean, I guess you could, but I’m not sure how far it would go or how interesting it would be. Let’s try it:

Jane went to the store. Jane dug an ice cream cone out of the deepest corner of the chest freezer, loosening the ice around it to pry it out. Jane paid for the ice cream cone, got in her car, and drove home.

Whew. I don’t know about you, but that had me on the edge of my seat. So how do you get conflict?

Add a villain:

Jane went to the store. Jane dug an ice cream cone out of the deepest corner of the freezer, loosening the ice around it to pry it out.

“How dare you disturb my frozen rest!” the ice cream cone bellowed, shooting a barrage of sprinkles at Jane. She felt herself growing cold. “I curse you, I curse you, Jane Storegoer, and all of your descendants. My expiration date, long since past, earned me eternal freezitude, and you have defrosted it.”

Jane tried to loosen her grip on the cone, but like a tongue on a cold fence pole, her hand stayed put. The shelves around her wavered and dissolved into a crystal white, extending far beyond her sight and high above her. The ice cream cone grew and grew until it towered, glaring down at her with its peanut eyes. Walled in on all sides, ice clumped like boulders along the vertical expanse, she felt a smooth surface beneath her feet. It gave slightly.

“Where are we?” she said. She bent, brushing the fallen ice beneath her shoes. Was that…an Amy’s frozen Breakfast Scramble box? “Is this the freezer? Am I in the freezer?”

“Mwaahhh haaaa haaa,” laughed the ice cream cone evilly.

“But if I’m in the freezer, how can you curse my descendants? I don’t have any, unless you count my parakeet. You wouldn’t count a parakeet, would you? I think there’s something wrong with this plan here.”

“Mwaahhh haaaa haaa,” said the ice cream cone again, mainly for emphasis.

***

So I think we can all agree I’m having a weird morning (Update: Still true. I must have a lot of weird mornings). That aside, without an antagonist, your protagonist has nothing to do. Enter the villain. In this case, an ice cream cone. And here’s the thing about villains: they need to have their own agendas.

Villains need to be as complex as heroes. They need to have a why; that they’re just plain evil is as unsatisfying in fiction as it is in life. Our ice cream cone just wants to rest.

Or does it?

 

Check out  my full-length novels: 

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

 Sign up for my spamless newsletter!

 

 

 

#AtoZChallenge: The Name is Ida. Aunty Ida.

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As Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only) counts down its final hours of the the $0.99 price, it seemed like a good time to talk about characters. Specifically one character. Because today is I and her name starts with an I and–

Ahem.

Anyway, when it comes to writing, characters simply come to me. Sometimes I get a line; sometimes it’s a name; sometimes it’s a situation. I rarely know anything about my characters when I first meet them, so readers and I are in the same boat.

Aunty Ida sprung, wholesale, from the title of the book, which I had long, long before there was a book. I didn’t know what to make of her the first time Margaret meets her; she simply appeared, this odd, brilliant scientist, sweeping the upright Judge Margaret Hamerton-Simpary into her brightly-colored and very off-kilter world.

Though Margaret drove the story — how I fought that character for control every inch of the way! And in the end, she was right — Aunty Ida shaped it, every watchful.

Sometimes, as much as this will make me sound like I’m in need of Ida’s services myself, it feels as though I’m tapping into people who exist somewhere else in the universe. And I think, when it comes to writing, that’s the key.

If your characters feel real, feel weighty, feel like they could exist somewhere to you, your readers will believe in them too.